Toreon Nano Composite construction
2K-1K high modulus woven carbonfibre blank
Crisp progressive action
Carbon Armour blank finish
Fuji DPS-18 reel seat
Full Japanese shrink wrap handle
The Prodigy Apex is the latest addition to Greys’ best-selling Prodigy range of rods, which over the years have gained a well-earned reputation for incredible performance at an affordable price.
The Apex rods start at £169.99 RRP for the 10ft 3lb model, going up to £200 for the 12ft and 13ft 3.5lb rods. These prices put the rods into the mid-range bracket where you expect that little bit extra for your money as opposed to entry-level rods in the £50-£100 price range.
Greys had sent the 12ft 3.25lb model for us to take out and nowadays this test curve would be classed as a good all-rounder. If you’re only planning on investing in one set of carp rods these will cover most jobs. Although they may be a little overgunned for fishing close in, they’ll still do the job, but they can easily chuck a large lead or PVA bag a decent distance that a rod with a lighter test curve would struggle to match.
We made the short journey to Northamptonshire’s Willowbrook Lake and straight away found a few carp making the most of the early spring sunshine in a shallow bay at the top of the lake. A clump of reeds knocking no more than a couple of rodlengths to the right of the swim revealed fish location after throwing in a handful of corn and broken boilies a rig was flicked towards the spot and the rod placed on the ground.
A few minutes later, the tip hooped round and I was bent into a carp. The rod’s smooth, progressive action easily cushioned the powerful lunges of the fish as it did its best to find sanctuary in the reeds. Ultimately the carp was no match for the power and control of the rod and it was soon sat in the net. The Prodigy Apex has benefitted from the use of Toreon Nano composite material technology. This not only makes the blank incredibly slim and lightweight but also gives it increased strength and finesse. The rod action has been specifically designed to get the best out of modern, powerful, overhead casting styles and the Toreon technology promotes a super-fast tip recovery speed. This gives the rod a crisp and responsive feel normally associated with ultra-high end carp rods.
The sublime woven carbon finish is 2K on the butt and 1K on the tip and features a durable Carbon Armour blank finish. Other features include a Fuji DPS-18 reel seat, stealth black anodised collars, a slim, shrink-wrapped handle and balanced stainless butt cap. If you’re looking at making the step up from entry-level blanks, then the Prodigy Apex rods are worth serious consideration.
Not only do they perform great but aesthetically they look the part too. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had a price tag of over £200, so for £179.99 they are excellent value. Having used the 3.25lb model I can confirm that it is a real jack of all trades and will handle everything from catching carp close in beneath overhanging trees, to blasting out rigs to 100 metres.
Slim carbon blank
Enlarged Zirconium guides
Ergonomically-designed reel seat
Rubber butt cap
Satin matt finish
Maximum mainline rating - 12lb
Recommended maximum casting weight - 5oz
Mono and braid-friendly guides
Shakespeare Agility Continental Feeder rod. This range of continental feeder rods bearing the famous Shakespeare mark is aimed squarely at fans of big, open-water venue fishing.
Designed and constructed to cope with the heaviest of feeders, the fastest of flows and the longest of casts, the rods come in 12ft, 13ft and 14ft lengths and are well-suited to the pursuit of big bream from expansive, deep venues. So why would these rods be of any interest at all to the UK match angler, I hear you ask?
Well I’ll tell you. It was brought to my attention that the 14ft Agility Continental in particular has furtively become one of the most sought-after long-chuck big feeder rods on the market. And not just for targeting stillwater bream either; it’s also rumoured to be very much ‘at home’ on big rivers such as the Severn and Trent. A quick call to Shakespeare revealed my source’s information to be well-founded; the company are currently completely out of stock of the 14ft model, due to an apparent surge in interest. However, the Alnwick-based firm did have the other two lengths in stock, and could get one sent out for live testing purpose immediately.
Although I would have liked to get my mitts on the 14ft model, I wasn’t overly disappointed at it not being available, as I wouldn’t be casting huge distances into really deep water, or using ultra-long hooklengths. A 14ft feeder rod is a highly-specialised tool, and on the rare occasion I have used them - which has been mainly in Holland - they have always felt a little bit alien, so I was more than happy with the 13ft model which I was sure would prove just as good as the slightly longer version.
Two days later the rod dropped on to my desk, and I couldn’t wait to get a look at it. A quick in-office inspection revealed a pleasing matt satin-finished three-piece high-modulus carbon blank. It has been designed with an ‘old-school’ fast-tapering casting action, with more than enough poke through its middle and butt sections to make distance casting a doddle.
Plus, it’s also got a high weight loading point, which kicks in around halfway down the carrier section, meaning it shouldn’t feel wobbly or unbalanced when a heavy feeder is attached to it. Other key features included three carbon push-in quivertips and a superb set of enlarged-diameter Zirconium Oxide guides, ideal for use with all braided and mono mainlines, and certainly wide enough to allow the safe snag-free passage of shockleader knots.
With the river closed season now upon us, I was slightly limited with regards to venue choice, especially as the bream stocks in most of the large acreage open-water venues such as Ferry Meadows are still only just waking up from their winter slumber. However, I knew that the Northants day-ticket lake Rysons was normally good for a few early spring slabs, and as it’s a fair chuck out to the middle of the lake where the fish normally reside, it would prove a fair casting test for the rod.
My set-up involved using a 10lb fluorocarbon shockleader, tied to a 0.10mm braided mainline, with a 40g distance cage feeder at the business end of things. The first task was to lay the table, so I made a dozen quick casts to the lake centre using a big cage feeder loaded with pellets, groundbait and dead red maggots. The blank hardly flexed during the loosefeeding process, with the mainline hitting the clip easily on every cast and the shockleader fairly sizzling through the rod’s enlarged guides. The blank’s casting action is best described as clean and crisp, but if I were to be hyper-critical I’d say it’s maybe a little on the heavy side. However, with minimal recoil, I knew it would be no bother at all to achieve extreme casting ranges.
An hour later the rod’s tip trembled, followed by the unmistakable steady pull-round as a big slab picked up the treble maggot hookbait. Two minutes and two big head shakes later we parted company when the hook pulled out. Unfortunately, this scenario unfolded three more times before a change to a larger hook and a longer hooklength remedied the problem. Quite simply, the blank’s power can be a little overwhelming when used with smaller hooks, but when coupled with wide gape hooks from a size 14 and upwards, the problem pales into the background.
To summarise, the rod has superb distance-casting credentials and is available at a snip of the price of most distance feeder models. As well as being an awesome tool for tackling large stillwaters at home and abroad, it would make an excellent rod for targeting all fish species on our larger domestic rivers.
This 13ft Agility Continental has power with a capital P to burn. Originally designed for the European feeder angler, the rod is ideal for big open-water UK venues, and is also sure to find favour with many river anglers, especially where hefty feeders up to 5oz and strong lines up to 12lb are needed. Price wise, for a long-range heavy feeder rod, it’s the best by some margin of those currently available on the market.
Tips: 1oz, 2oz and 3oz
Casting weight: 60g
Handle: Full cork
Middy produces impressive commercial fishery rods these days, with everything from close-quarter snake lake models to powerful horizon-hitting beasts. And what’s more, there’s something to suit every depth of pocket.
Close to the pinnacle of Middy’s comprehensive feeder rod range sits the latest new and improved 11ft Nano-Core XK55-2 World Pro Feeder. Don’t be deterred by the RRP because it can be found at a lower price around £159.99 if you shop around. That said, it’s still a lot to lay out by anyone’s standards, so what exactly would you be buying? Well, for starters you get an ultra-slim (it’s just over 3cm circumference at the butt section), ridiculously light, two-sectioned carbon fibre blank, and the result of the very latest Nano-Core technology. This translates into a rod with lightning-fast reflexes, immense strength and flexibility.
The understated non-flash matt-black coloured blank has undergone a unique high-pressure vacuum curing process that forces out any tiny air bubbles, ensuring a consistent performance and a flawless finish. Other luxury touches include three push-in carbon quivertips rated at 1oz, 2oz and 3oz, plus eight ceramic-lined double and single SiC guides. An ultra-thin full cork handle furnished with a screw-down reel seat completes the classy designer furnishings.
Middy claims the rod will cast bombs and feeders up to 60g using mainlines up to 10lb and hooklengths up to 8lb – pretty much standard manufacturer-speak for a commercial feeder rod of this quality. But in my humble opinion, top-end models should always have that bit extra, the ‘wow’ factor if you like. You’re already paying for the classy furnishings, fittings and carbon technology, but without that noticeable edge to the rod’s performance all that counts for nowt – and that applies to all tackle brands.
And so to the live test, to see if the improved spec and build XK55-2 did indeed have the ‘wow’ factor. I headed to a new day- ticket venue for me, Townsend Lakes, near Wisbech, deep in the Cambridgeshire fens. The finned residents of the venue’s Woodpecker Pool are said to come in all sizes, responding well to most open-water straight lead and feeder tactics.
Assembling the rod, you cannot help but be impressed by its pencil-slimness and lightness in the hand – in fact, I found the full cork handle a tad too skinny for my own assortment of butt rests, and would suggest that any prospective buyer should look for a small U-shaped abbreviated rear rest of the sort favoured by carp anglers.
The rod’s two sections are of equal length when a quivertip is fitted and, as the XK55-2 comes with its own carry bag, it can be carried made-up saving time on the bank. I wasn’t wholly convinced by its suggested 60g maximum casting weight. For me, the top end of the quivertip carrier section has a little too much play for that much casting weight, and while there is no denying its impressive post-cast tip recovery speed, this rod is clearly not of the ‘give it a whack’ breed. If you miscast and take out the top section it’s likely to have been a very expensive non-cast.
And there end my criticisms. The fact is, the performance of this new and improved version of the Nano-Core X55-2 11ft World Pro Feeder will have you purring with satisfaction. It has a wondrous amount of torque and feel, with a handling aptitude right up there with the very best.
The immaculate high modulus carbon blank has a phenomenal crispness and line pick-up speed, which is blended with a super-responsive continuous (non-locking) parabolic action. This steadily strengthens and tightens the more you pull, enabling you to subdue any size or species of fish in double quick time without any hook-pulls or snapped lines. And it’s this superb action where the rod’s ‘wow’ factor I was looking for kicks-in. Think of it as a bit like stepping out of your old family saloon and into a works rally car, but once you adapt to the change its all systems go – only you won’t have to strap yourself in!
A genuine high-performance rod for the commercial fishery connoisseur, this top-end model will comfortably handle most weights of flatbed feeders and straight leads up to 40g (1.5oz). Its flexibility and superb parabolic action make it equally at home with a maggot or small cage feeder with light lines and small hooks for F1s, skimmers and silvers, and targeting bigger winter carp with bread
Pleasure and big-fish brand Korum has launched a range of three-piece feeder rods that are sure to be a huge hit. The eight-strong collection features models ranging from 11ft to 13ft, and covers all short, medium or long-casting ranges. The rods are perfect for all types of feeder fishing on both rivers and stillwaters and have maximum casting weights running from 45g to 180g.
11ft Feeder 45g
Ideal for lakes where feeders need to be cast accurately at short or medium distances. A versatile rod with a line rating of 4lb-8lb, it is supplied with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips: orange (light), yellow (medium) and red (heavy).
12ft Feeder 45g
Described by Korum as a ‘fantastic all-rounder’ with plenty of backbone, it has
a 4lb-8lb line rating, and comes with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips (light, medium and heavy).
12ft Feeder 60g
A rod with more power for casting larger feeders and making longer casts. It has
a 6lb-8lb line rating and comes with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips (light, medium and heavy).
12ft Feeder 90g
This rod is for large feeders and long casts, but it retains enough tip sensitivity for silverfish work. Ideal for medium-paced rivers, it has a 6lb-10lb line rating and comes with a trio of 3.3mm colour-coded light, medium and heavy quivertips.
12ft Feeder 120g
The most powerful 12ft model in the series. A good option for fast water, but with a sensitive tip action that allows plenty of options. It has a line rating of 6lb-8lb and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded quivertips.
13ft Feeder 120g
As with the two other 13ft models in the range, this rod has a slightly more powerful tip for improved casting distance and accuracy. It has a line rating of 6lb-10lb, and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded quivertips.
13ft Feeder 150g
More power and a faster casting action make this rod ideal for when long casts and heavy feeders are the order of the day. Great for large, open stillwaters and fast-paced rivers. Carries a line rating of 6lb- 10lb and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded (light, medium and heavy) quivertips.
13ft Feeder 180g
With a casting weight of 180g, this powerful rod will comfortably launch feeders beyond 100m. Boasting large-diameter guides, it can also be safely used with shockleaders. It has a line rating of 6lb-10lb, and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded (light, medium and heavy) quivertips.
Greys has an impressive track record for iconic fishing rods – names such as Prodigy, Platinum and Air Curve are all instantly recognisable to big-fish anglers who demand the best.
So when news broke of a new rod range aimed at the serious coarse angler I just had to get my hands on a couple. The full Toreon Tactical family features four quivertip rods at 10ft 6ins, 11ft 10ins, 12ft 6ins and 13ft.All come with five graded carbon push-in quivertips. There are also five float rods in lengths of 10ft 6ins, 11ft 6ins, 12ft 8ins, 13ft and 15ft. Combine these with the quivertip rods and you have a rod arsenal able to tackle every imaginable venue, from tiny ponds to raging rivers.
Built from high modulus, lightweight Toreon nano-carbon, all rods are amazingly strong and responsive, and furnished throughout with quality lightweight gunsmoke SiC guides. Detachable cork butt grips allow for compact storage and variable handle lengths. These will be a blessing on the longer rods, giving more casting clout to those who like to whack it out a bit. The two rods on test, an 11ft 10ins quiver and an 11ft 6ins float model, should between them cover most ‘middle of the road’ situations and deal with everything from big commercial carp to shy-biting silvers. This in itself is quite unusual in an era when most modern coarse rods are built to do a specific job.
I would suggest, though, that if (after reading this review) you are interested in owning a Greys Toreon Tactical rod, you take a closer look at the full range before making your choice with so many rod lengths and recommended line strengths there will be something perfect for every fishery you may visit during the course of a season. Bearing that in mind, I took the test rods to a mixed fishery, the superbly well attended and blissfully peaceful day-ticket Wold Farm in Northamptonshire (www.woldfarmfisheries.co.uk). When the float dips or the tip goes round on Wood Lake you can never be too sure what’s having a nibble on the other end – it’s a kind of aquatic Bingo.
Starting on a 3AAA insert peacock waggler with a lightish 0.11mm hooklength and size 18 hook baited with double maggot, the 11ft 6ins two-sectioned rod soon put a few roach and half-decent skimmers into the netThe blank is crisp and responsive, with the backbone to cast big floats (including pellet wagglers up to 15g) without a hitch. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch anything hefty enough to test its anti-locking action, but for silvers alone it’s just about light enough to put a bend in the tip. The 11ft 10ins Toreon Tactical quiver rod was tested rather better as a run of pastie-sized carp took a liking to my bread disc hookbaits. The feisty little fellows showed plenty of spirit, but the blank’s flat spot-free action shrugged off their struggles and they were soon peering through the mesh of my keepnet.
It’s more than capable of handling medium-sized Method feeders, but although Greys rates its maximum casting weight at 185g (6oz-plus) that’s a tad optimistic in my opinion. I particularly liked the five blaze-coloured carbon quivertips which add to the rod’s versatility and help prove its worth as an all-rounder.
If you’re a journeyman coarse angler looking for a ‘one rod does it all’ bank side companion, then one – or perhaps two – from the new Toreon Tactical range are more than likely to be sliding into your rod holdall soon. Quality and performance are virtually guaranteed from Greys, one of the UK’s longest-surviving tackle companies with a fine history of producing hard-wearing, long-lasting and thoroughly satisfying fishing rods.
£99.99 - £129.99
These tiny wands are called Ticklers – did Ken Dodd invent them so his Diddy Men could go fishing?
Well, oddly enough, no. These pint-sized single-sectioned Carp and F1 models are the latest additions to Browning’s popular Commercial King range. There’s nothing new about short or indeed single-sectioned rods, and few would argue against their having a place in the modern commercial match angler’s rod holdall. That is just where you can tuck your Tickler after a match, and very easily at that.
Simply remove the quivertip, place the hook into its retainer and reel up any slack line. Then it’s just a matter of folding the reel handle flat before sliding the rod into its slim, protective tube. There are no bands, sleeves or broken tips to worry about – the rod can be taken down and put up again quite literally in seconds.
For live test purposes I carried both versions to my peg at Monkhall Fisheries in Shropshire, ready made-up inside a standard rod bag containing five tubes plus a few mini pole extensions (and if you’re wondering about the blue colour of the water, it’s from a fish-safe dye used to keep weed growth to a minimum). Just to have them so close to hand and ready to use without the need to transport yet another rod holdall to the peg further endeared these rods of restricted growth to me. Yes, obviously they have their limitations, but for ease of transportation and convenience they tick my box.
The pair consists of a surprisingly substantial Carp Tickler model with a 50g (1.7oz) maximum casting weight, suitable for reel lines up to 8lb, and the lighter F1 rod with a casting weight of 35g (1.5oz) for reel lines up to 6lb breaking strain. The Carp Tickler has enough clout in its progressive fish-playing action to cope with specimens of 10lb-plus, while its lighter F1 counterpart shares the action while remaining just about light enough to handle small hooks and fragile hooklengths without risking hook-pulls or breakages.
During the live test, I fished for carp in deep water with the Carp Tickler set up with a 0.75oz straight lead and hair-rigged bread discs. I rigged the F1 rod with a 20g Drennan Carp feeder, size 18 hook and double maggot for fishing in shallower water up against an island.
During the session the wind got up from nowhere and, within seconds, wickedly cold snow flurries were driving across the lake. It really was ‘batten down the hatches’ stuff, but my fishing didn’t suffer at all, as the shortness of the rods had allowed me to tuck the rod-tips right into the bank. I hit every bite, and even when I had the brolly up I could still see the quivertips. As a bonus, I found I could net fish without having to negotiate the canopy of my brolly.
Well, I must admit to being completely sold on these new Browning Ticklers. I really liked the concept – packing away and setting up rods has never been easier or more lacking in fuss and drama. Being able to stick them inside my pole holdall was another big plus point. I found the Carp Tickler a little on the heavy side, and although I wouldn’t hesitate to use it for summer Method feeder margin work I would probably furnish myself with a pair of the F1 Ticklers for winter commercial fishing, preferring their softer cushioning action.
Daiwa has reintroduced its famous Powermesh rods which, back in the day, had a reputation among carp anglers for being cutting edge.
The latest seven-strong collection includes a dedicated 2.75lb test curve barbel rod for float and feeder use. The float rods come in 13ft, 14ft and 15ft lengths and are well suited to heavy waggler and deep-water slider work using reel lines from 3lb-10lb. A crisp action makes them ideal for long-trotting with Avons and big stick floats on fast-flowing rivers for chub and barbel.
The three feeder models (11ft 6ins, 12ft 6ins and 13ft 6ins) all come with quivertips of 1.5oz, 2oz and 3oz test curves, and would seem to be as much at home with open-end feeders for summer tench as they would be tempting winter river chub using maggot and bread feeders.
With casting weights of up to 50g, 70g and 90g, respectively, each rod is built to take lots of stick, reflected in the use of high-grade carbon cloth with a 1k carbon weave along the butt sections for added resilience.
As you’d expect from Daiwa, the classy non-flash matt-black blanks are of the finest quality, with full cork handles, original Fuji DPS reel seats, stainless steel guides with lightweight LS ceramic rings, and hard-wearing aluminium butt caps. All these work together to give the rods a pleasing custom-built aesthetic look.
£107.99 to £125.99
Light lure fishing has captured the imagination of UK anglers to an amazing degree in the past two years.
This has seen an influx of tackle rarely spotted in British tackle shops as most kit designed to fish this style had been the preserve of European, American and Japanese anglers. One such manufacturer of fine lure fishing tackle is Quantum. Offering a huge range of different rods to cover all styles of lure fishing, it was towards the lighter end that I looked to test.
The rod, a one-piece Quantum PT Accurist Spin is available in five different weights and lengths – from the shortest 1.98m (rated at a casting weight of 7g -21g) to the longest, two-piece 2.55m (CW 12g -74g) model. The 2.03m (CW 3g-12g) model I tested is a one-piece blank. This makes the rod more responsive when fishing lighter jig heads and hard baits, as there is no joining spigot to reduce the ‘telegraphing’ of the ‘working’ lure through the blank and into the angler’s hand. This is further enhanced by its new and improved build using lightweight HSX54 graphite construction.
The handle is made from EVA and features ergonomic grips on both the reel handle and butt section. Weighing only 95g (just over 3oz) it is perfect for using all day without fatigue. All lure rods are rated between Very Fast through to Soft. This rating indicates the stiffness of the blank and how quickly it will recover after casting. Basically, the faster the rod, the less the tip shakes and wobbles after casting!
Very fast rods are inclined to feel a bit like ‘broom handles’ while soft rods are great for playing small fish, but lack the butt power for casting distances. I found the Quantum PT Accurist Spin to be Fast, and combined with the light Casting Weight rating of 3g-12g, makes this rod a bit of an all-rounder for fishing light lures.
To put the rod through its paces and to test its versatility, I decided to both drop shot on my local river Nene, before going to the other extreme, vertical jig fishing into depth of 70ft on the mighty Rutland Water, the biggest man-made lake in Europe. For drop shotting, the river was not in the greatest of trim, quite dirty and carrying an extra 2ft on its normal levels. This worked in my favour in some ways as I needed to use a drop shot weight of 12g to hold station in and around the river’s various features.
With a handful of small perch and one getting on for a pound, the rod coped admirably with the prevailing conditions. For part two, it was on to a boat on a bitterly cold Rutland Water. Faced with depths of over 100ft in some areas, it is often necessary to use jig heads from 30g up to 50g. But, as you are vertical jigging – dropping the lure off the rod tip, and not casting – a light, fast rod like the Quantum PT Accurist Spin is ideal for targeting massive shoals of 1lb-4lb zander.
The heavy jig heads enable you to keep bow in the braid to a minimum, so you are able to work the lure correctly and ‘keep in touch’ with the bait while bouncing it along the bottom. On a slow day, with a few missed bites, the best fish of the test was a 5lb 9oz zander, taken in around 70ft, a few yards off the pumping tower. It put up one hell of a scrap from such a depth, but was easily tamed.
I would class this rod as decribed ‘on the tin’. It is a lighTt spinning rod, a little heavy for pure drop shotting and notquite heavy enough for some of the larger soft plastics and hard lures. But, as a light, middle-ground rod, it is brilliant. Having a very ‘tippy’ action, but with plenty of grunt in the bottom end, it is a lure rod that will serve you admirably whether you’re targeting bigger perch, zander or up to double-figure pike. It’ll certainly be in the boat on my next Rutland trip!
Casting weight: 3g to 12g
Multi-coloured CNC EVA handle
Sic Fuji guides
Reel lines: 4lb - 6lb
Hooklengths: 3lb (0.13mm) - 5lb (0.16mm)
Supplied with: Padded rod sleeve, retaining bands and rod socks
Widely considered to be the best available, Drennan’s award-winning 13ft Acolyte match rods need little introduction.
The original super-light (4.5oz) Ultra makes floatfishing on rivers and lakes a pleasurable experience. The rods have a crisp yet forgiving action teamed with a viper-fast striking speed that can still set a tiny hook without fear of snapping off gossamer-fine hooklengths.
So, with all the boxes ticked, why would Drennan even think about making changes to these rods? Well, the company has… and yet it hasn’t. Let me explain. For those who prefer the original three-piece Acolytes, these rods remain unchanged and widely available.
However, they have been joined by two new Acolyte Compact versions, the 13ft Ultra and the stepped-up 13ft Plus.
These new two-piece rods have a patented design that enables the bottom 31cm of the handle to be unscrewed, leaving you with two similar length sections that can be quickly, easily and safely broken down with your rigs in situ. That’s never before been possible with 13ft match rods, unless of course you want to risk tip breakages, or spend more time untangling your rigs than setting up again from scratch.
The Compact Acolyte’s two sections are said to actually improve the rod’s balance and action by having just one ferrule in front of the handle, rather than the usual two, and that makes perfect sense.
But rather than simply just take the manufacturer’s word for it we took the Compact Acolyte Plus to the bank to see for ourselves – already all-but convinced by Drennan’s impeccable rod-building prowess.
As with the original three-piece Acolyte Plus model, the new Compact has the power to cast large floats and subdue quality fish. Essentially it’s a stepped-up version of the Ultra, but where would you use it? Well, it’s ideal for all long-range waggler and sliding float work, but legging-up a few skimmers and roach isn’t really much of a live test.
What was needed was a venue where we could use a big float and heavy line to catch something that pulled back – and not a carp!
Waters around Nottingham available on a Scunthorpe AA club book are among the finest on the Trent. So, armed with the Compact Plus fitted with my precious Hardy Conquest centrepin reel and little more than a few top-and-bottom floats, a pocketful of accessories and some bait – not forgetting the waders – I was off to a shallow, picture- postcard stretch where the float rules.
Wading into the shallows, surrounded by white foam created by the crashing weir behind me, I found a flat crease around four rodlengths where I thought the float would pass unhindered over the rocky riverbed.
Feeding Dynamite Baits Hemp with Snails, mixed in with small pieces of the meat carried in my bait apron, I soon realised why it’s important to use a light rod and reel combination. Regular feeding, and constant casting soon take their toll, especially when you’re not used to it.
But I have to say the Drennan/Hardy combination was as light as thistledown, and I fished for several hours without need of a rest. Casting a 4g alloy-stemmed Avon float proved effortless for the Acolyte Plus, and it could have easily handled double that weight.
It also fairly snapped the line off the surface with little more than a flick of the wrist – no great sweeping arcs of strike needed here to hit the bite, as the rod has a super-fast action with virtually no recoil or tip bounce.
I must admit I feared the worst, striking at distance with a two-piece 13ft rod, but my fears were groundless – it’s just perfect.
But the rod’s crowning glory is its awe-inspiring parabolic action. Its top section has a cushioning tip that tightens further down to generate a ‘power play’ fighting curve quite capable of handling the largest of fish.
That was proved as some whacking great chub and ‘never say die’ barbel were beaten in white water – after putting up the kind of scrap that would have given most other rods one hell of a beating!
Well, I’ll keep this short. During the live test I did lose a few fish, all very big barbel. It had nothing at all to do with the rod, it was simply poor preparation on my part, as I hadn’t loaded my reel with a heavy enough line.
This episode played on my mind all week, so I simply had to return and have another go. Reloading the reel with something more substantial, and re-rigging the rod at home, meant I could safely carry the made-up rod in the car all ready to go.
The result was my biggest-ever barbel on a float rod, estimated at 10lb-12lb. It fought like a demon, and no wonder I shall be forever grateful to Drennan’s new Compact Acolyte Plus.
10ft, 3lb test curve £139.99
All others in the range £149.99
Big-carp brand Avid continues to come up with very innovative products, and these four new Curvex rods are bang on the mark, offering the modern carp angler something completely different from the norm.
Teaming an almost ‘old school’ through action with modern materials, these rods – coming in three lengths and four test curves – offer an intense fish-playing experience that allows the angler to feel every shake of the head.
The non-locking action doesn’t sit that well with casting to the horizon – but when you hook a big fish you can battle it with total confidence.
Even so, these two-piece rods have more than enough grunt for all but the largest of open waters.
It’s simply a matter of matching their 10ft, 12ft and 13ft lengths and 2.75lb, 3lb 3.25lb and 3.5lb test curves to your needs.
You can use them with smaller hooks, lighter hooklengths and thinner diameter reel lines without having to worry about hook pulls or painful partings of the way when your quarry makes a last-minute bolt for freedom.
There’s no doubt that finesse pays when the water cools and clears, and for that reason alone the Avid Curvex will appeal to anyone waking up to frost on their bivvy and grass crunching underfoot.
The ‘bend, and then bend some more’ action will also prove useful when big fish need to be played through weedbeds, or reeled in with washing lines of loose weed in tow.
Despite its best efforts you’ll be able to keep a big fish moving in the right direction without fear of breakage.
Other key features include original Fuji reel seats with Japanese shrink-wrapped handles, lightweight SiC guides throughout, anti-frap tip guides to prevent crack-offs, and 50mm enlarged butt guides on the 12ft and 13ft models.
All in all, these rods have the X Factor! It’s ‘four yesses’ from us!
There was a time when a ‘short’ rod was classed as 11ft maximum.
Nowadays a host of models in the 8ft, 9ft and 10ft class are available, including the Super Light 9ft Feeder from Preston Innovations. This is billed as a close-range tool for small feeders and bombs, and casts up to 30m.
It’s the baby of the Competition Pro range of feeder rods, which stretches right up to a heavy 13ft version. The Competition Pro is a definitely a series of all-round rods rather than out-and-out commercial tools, and although I could have taken it to a reservoir or a big lake and targeted small fish, it wouldn’t have been too much of a test. Instead it was thrown in at the deep end at Decoy Lakes’ ever-reliable Six Islands pool, which holds lots of carp in the 4lb-10lb bracket.
First, a note on the length. I absolutely love using a 9ft rod. Don’t get me wrong, it’s limited in terms of casting distance but for anything up to 35m or so it makes feeder fishing so effortless, especially with the hookbait tucked inside the frame of a Method or pellet version. A traditional open-end feeder with a long tail isn’t as aerodynamic, so a longer rod is needed to cast it properly.
With a 9ft rod, fish pop up under your feet for netting, as they do on a short F1-type top kit on a pole.
I clipped my line up for a short 16m chuck to the middle of the bowl at the car park end of the lake, where there is a sunken island. Believe it or not it’s quite difficult to discipline yourself to apply such a short cast – or it would be with a longer rod.
My 30g inline Preston Method couldn’t have been in the water much longer than 30 seconds when the 1oz tip I’d fitted pulled firmly round. A 5lb mirror carp was the culprit, and it was beaten in double-quick time. I quickly realised how much backbone and power this rod has, right through its faultless action. With several hooked carp I could feel the line grating through some submerged roots or vegetation on the bar, and I really had to give the fish some stick, standing up sometimes, to get them over it without breaking the hooklength.
Then I took the clip off and gave it a few good casts up the long sides of the lakes. This was surprisingly easy, helped by the large rod rings towards the base of the blank. I reckon you could punch a Method feeder 45m or 50m if you really went for it.
My final trick was at much, much closer range. I’d been throwing a few handfuls of pellets in the margins and a gentle underarm lob sent the feeder down there.
The rod was almost wrenched from my hands as I caught barbel and several more carp, including a double-figure common, which all made off towards a snaggy corner with an aerator. Despite a few hairy moments the Super Light Feeder took everything thrown at it, and smaller, softer rods like this mean fewer hook pulls too.
Test curves: Available in 2.75lb, 3lb and 3.5lb test curves. A 4.5lb Spod/Marker dual concept rod is also available
Handles: Full EVA Duplon handles on KNX carp rods, abbreviated shrink grips on KNX Spod/Marker rod
Guides: Exclusive Flexor guides for reduced blank distortion and greater power transmission, 50mm butt rings on 3lb, 3.5lb and 4.5lb Spod/Marker models
12ft 2.75lb £76.99
12ft 3lb £87.99
12ft 3.5lb £98.99
Spod and Marker 12ft 4.5lb £87.99
When carp rods look this good you’d expect two things of them – great performance and a hefty price tag. In the case of the KNX models, Nash has well and truly delivered one of these.
First let’s deal with the all-important looks. The completely non-reflective matt black blanks with matching gloss black decals may at first glance seem a tad dull, but they certainly give the rod an expensive classy look, guaranteed to draw admiring glances wherever you set them up.
When it comes to tasteful fittings and fancy furnishings, these KNX’s are of designer boutique standard. Their modern EVA and Duplon handles offer an easy, comfortable grip for casting and playing fish, and are finished with a laser-etched butt cap, complete with isotope slot.
A sultry black soft-touch rubber reel seat raises comfort to a whole new level – thanks to its clever skeletal design your thumb and forefinger can come into contact with the blank, giving improved ‘feel’ transmission from fish on the end.
Moving up the blank, you’ll find a line clip, then a 50mm butt guide on the 3lb and 3.5lb rods, followed by five more ideally-placed Flexor guides that reduce stress distortion during casting and give a seamless performance when playing a fish. Spigot alignment markings ensure the rod is always set up with the guides lined up straight. So this rod really does seems to be a class act, but what about its performance and price?
Price-wise it’s got to be a steal at £98.99 for the 3.5lb version on live test duty, £87.99 for the 3lb rod, and just £76.99 for the 2.75lb baby of the bunch.
With limited time available, the live test was geared towards what the 12ft, 3.5lb test curve blank is capable of.
I can happily report that it was more than capable of casting 3oz leads teamed with solid PVA bags and mesh sticks. Admittedly it isn’t an out-and-out casting tool, so if you’re thinking ‘unbridled power’ you may be slightly disappointed. The carbon composite blank doesn’t generate uite enough energy from its butt section, and loads the casting weight a little bit further down the tip than a horizon-buster of a rod.
That said, and for the money, Nash KNX rods are perfect for small to medium-sized carp waters where casts of up to 75 yards using solid PVA bag and mesh sticks are needed.
The progressive action makes it far less prone to hook-pulls than the ‘broom handle’ 3.5lb rods of yesteryear, which had no fish-playing action and scant feel. The KNX will handle fish from low doubles upwards, and make it a joy to catch them.
Completing the KNX collection is a Spod/Marker rod with a powerful 4.5lb test curve – so you can have a matching set if you feel like pushing the boat out.
Nash KNX carp rods offer the highest spec available in their modest price bracket. With on-trend looks and custom-built qualities, these multi-talented tools are ideal for venues – and carp – of all sizes.
If you’re just getting serious about your carping, and are looking for a set of good rods that won’t break the bank, I would take a long serious look at these.
Power rating: 6lb
Extras: Side keeper ring
You could do worse than use the Redditch tackle giant’s products down the years as a means of charting the development of the modern match fishing rod in terms of materials, furnishings and specifications.
A potted history of Shakespeare notables would show the fibreglass Match International as a rod ahead of its time. This was followed by the excellent, if rather expensive, President which I believe was the first carbon fibre rod to be built with a spliced-in tip.
Then we had the superb Mach 2 Boron which held centre stage with matchmen for many seasons, but was eventually superceded by the Mach 3 carbon. Since then we have been blessed with the firm’s high-modulus carbon Superteam model, launched in 2014.
Shakespeare did, of course, introduce many other match rods but those listed above were widely recognised as being as good as it got back in the day. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that match fishing was all about using a waggler or stick float to catch winning nets of roach, chub, dace, perch or bream, the tool of choice being a 13ft, three-piece.
The finesse to deftly flick a small waggler across a canal, cleanly pick up line from the surface when long trotting and cast bodied wagglers or sliders into deeper water on rivers and lakes, are qualities we expect of any good match rod.
That brings me nicely on to Shakespeare’s Superteam 13ft match rod which really is a jack of all trades and will take all these tasks in its stride. Yes, this rod was first introduced a few years back, but that doesn’t make it in the least bit tired or dated. It remains to this day one of the best all-round match-style float rods that few others can hold a candle to.
The three-piece pencil slim carbon blank is nice and light in the hand, making it easy to hold for long spells, and a requirement of any good river rod. Worthy of note are its zirconium oxide guides that enable almost friction-free line travel, very useful when trotting a river at the pace of its current.
Its fast, progressive action doesn’t lock up under stress, so when you hook into a really big fish the blank will absorb and keep absorbing its runs and lunges with no fear of the line snapping. At the same time it has the backbone to boss fish away from snags.
Live testing the rod was interesting, as I already had some idea about the Superteam’s performance from an earlier Angling Times review. This time, rather than take it to a carp puddle or river, I thought I would test the blank’s sharpness and line pick-up qualities on a deep venue I knew held some big roach and decent ide.
Waggler tackle with small hooks and maggots, coupled with a nagging easterly side wind, wasn’t perhaps the ideal mix for a decent day’s fishing. But I needn’t have worried – Shakespeare’s finest 13ft of carbon cast a hefty three-swan insert waggler with ease and unerring accuracy.
With the float set at 12ft deep, line pick-up speed was central to hitting bites and the rod didn’t disappoint, connecting time and time again with the most tentative of enquiries.
As the fish responded to the feed they started coming up in the water, and bites became lightning-fast.
Now the line needed to be whipped from the surface at a rate of knots, and yet again the rod performed impeccably. Not merely a jack of all trades but a master of them all.
Another pure class floatfishing rod from the Shakespeare stable and perfect for silverfish, the Superteam 13ft is tactically flexible and ultra-reliable. Use it with confidence, however light the terminal tackle. Its anti-locking nature and progressive action allows it to cope with sizeable fish, something that cannot be said of many old-school float rods.
On September 5, five Carp Waggler, five Carp Feeder and two Multi-Feeder rods from Free Spirit will hit the tackle shops.
All use the company’s tried and tested CTX specification, which has proved so successful in its carp and barbel rods.
The 40 tonne carbon blanks’ Bi-Axis weave makes them exceptionally light and immensely strong, and their brilliant paint and lacquer-free Perdurable finish is impossible to mark.
Other key features include reduced length handles (although the stepped-up SU Waggler and BW Feeder rods retain long handles for distance casting). The action of all the new rods gives an even build-up of power from tip down to butt, more than enough to stop powerful fish on light gear without the blank bottoming out.
Fast forward to the Oaks Strip at Decoy Lakes, near Peterborough. An early numbered peg at the top end of the Oaks, with the wind off my back, would in all likelihood prove to be a good testing ground for the CTX 10ft Carp Waggler rod.
Fitting the two sections of the rod together, it immediately struck me how slim and light it is. It doesn’t feel or look like an ordinary pellet wag chucker, either, being almost reminiscent of the featherweight old-school rods we used for squatt fishing on the Grand Union Canal.
There’s enough whip in it to be used with floats weighing as little as 3AAA. But the elfin 10ft blank still has more than enough poke to propel a waggler headlong into the strongest of winds.
This I discovered when, mesmerised by its all-round casting, fish playing and handling, I walked the rod round to the other side of the lake where my work colleague Ben Fisk was
live-testing a new margin pole.
Ben, one of the best young match anglers in the UK, is normally a man of very few words. But after just a few casts, and a couple of lucky early mug fish, he turned to me and asked whether he could ‘borrow’ the rod for his forthcoming weekend matches.
That alone should tell you how good the CTX 10ft Carp Waggler is.
Well, occasionally you just don’t see something coming. The comfort of its handling, the tip speed, faultless non-locking parabolic action, classy guides and woven carbon blank make this by far the best 10ft waggler rod we have seen, and at a price that won’t cause credit card meltdown. Go to your nearest tackle shop and have a look at one if you think I’m kidding.
Since their introduction a little over nine months ago, Avid’s Traction Carp rods have become the benchmark by which all sub-£100 models are judged.
Built from Reactive carbon fibre wrapped in a matt-finished 3K weave, each 12ft blank offers a unique take on the traditional parabolic action beloved of carpers. A slow build-up of power cushions the runs and lunges of hard-fighting fish, offering greater control when it really matters.
It’s just the sort of action needed for a modern day big-carp rod that multi-tasks.
The original Traction models carried test curves of 3lb, 3.25lb and 3.5lb, covering everything from solid PVA bag and stick work to middle to long-range Method feeder and straight lead work.
I more than proved the point when live testing a pair of the 3lb models last November at a cold and rather uninviting-looking Boddington Reservoir where a whack of 90-plus yards with a 3oz pellet-laden Method feeder was needed to reach its denizens.
You might think that most of the general heavy-duty casting work would be taken care of by the 3lb, 3.25lb and 3.5lb models. Avid’s development team could indeed have been forgiven for lying back on their super-comfy Benchmark bedchairs and feeling a bit smug.
But not a bit of it – enter the new 2.25lb and 2.75lb test curve blanks. Both rods boast the same Reactive carbon and 3K weave as the originals, but they have a slightly softer parabolic action suiting them to smaller waters, more modest casting distances and surface and zig rig tactics.
To test these attributes, what was needed was a medium-sized lake with a healthy stock of big, snippy fish that could be tempted on a wide range of tactics.
Northamptonshire’s day-ticket Willowbrook Lake, jam-packed with handsome fish to almost 30lb, fits the bill. It’s a superb daylight venue, especially if you’re after wetting the unhooking mat without waiting all day for a run.
First up was the new Traction 2.75lb rod, rigged with a 1.5oz inline Avid lead and solid PVA bag full of micro pellets.
The blank took little persuasion to launch its payload to the centre of the lake, close to a man-made floating island. It could easily have been burdened with a heavier lead and tasked with a far longer cast.
The slightly softer 2.25lb model was kitted out with a zig rig and 2oz lead, cast close to one of the numerous lily beds. It handled the weight easily enough, but it’s definitely not a rod with lots of clout. For all zig, surface and margin work, though, it’s ideal.
I didn’t have to wait long for the alarm to sound, as what felt like a decent fish ploughed straight through two weedbeds before I even had a chance to pick up the rod and tighten down the clutch.
Summer carp in shallow water can be tricky enough to cope with on their own, without having half a hundredweight of weed festooned along the line like so much washing. With the 2.75lb blank, it seemed all would be lost.
But deep in the belly of the blank was a core of steely strength with enough pulling power to drag the beast from its lair. The fish, having gone underneath the weed and out the other side, was still snarky about being hooked, but eventually both carp and weed came safely over the net cord.
What more can you say, other than that these rods are fabulous? I also managed two on zig rigs on the lighter model, and would happily add both to my holdall.
Two more sure-fire winners from the Avid stable. The addition of lighter 2.25lb and 2.75lb test curve rods further enhances the comprehensive Traction Carp range. Ideal for smaller waters, but still more than capable of handling very big fish, the heavier rod is perfect for small bags, Method feeders and zigs.
Its lighter compatriot would make an awesome shallow water zig, surface and margin tool.
Top section: The top section of the rod has
a quick tip action with a fast recovery rate. This allows you to make longer and smoother casts.
Fittings: High-quality line guides are used throughout, producing super-slick casts no matter how great the diameter of your line.
Blanks: Made from ultra-slim high-modulus carbon blanks, they have two equal lengths so that they are ideal for carrying ready made up.
Action: The rods have a perfect parabolic non-locking action which is ideally suited to commercial fishery carp of any size.
Handle: The new Commercial King2 rods
are designed with shorter cork handles so that they can be more easily manoeuvred around the angler’s body.
Browning has revamped its range of Commercial King rods.
The latest models retain many of the build characteristics of the originals – slim carbon blanks, two equal-length sections and a responsive, progressive action.
However, Browning has further refined its best-selling UK range with improved cosmetics, beefed-up casting prowess and a tweak to provide a little more power through the mid-sections.
All this has been accomplished without Browning significantly hiking up its prices, which something to be applauded.
So, with the summer sun in full water-warming mode and carp cruising about all over the surface of nearly every lake I have visited in the past two weeks, it made perfect sense to take a closer look at Browning’s latest Commercial King2 Pellet Waggler rods.
These 11-footers come in Medium and Power versions, the latter boasting around 15 per cent more stiffness and power for situations involving bigger fish, or casting heavier floats up to 30g.
My chosen test venue, The Pool at Fields End Fishery in Cambridgeshire, is noted for its mixed stocks, so I chose the Medium model with a maximum casting weight of 20g. This is ideally suited to lighter floats, hooks and lines.
Assembling the rod, it’s immediately apparent that this is quality kit. At only 175g, it’s nicely balanced, with a super-quick tip action and fast recovery. That means it doesn’t wobble around much, making long, smooth casts easy to achieve.
My float choice was the small flighted John Bonney model that comes free on the front of Angling Times this week. It flew across the Pool to a range of 25m with no effort. The slightly reduced handle length made feeding with a catapult equally effortless, and that made very short shrift of what can otherwise be a rather tiresome ‘feed and cast’ routine.
Feeding little more than half-a-dozen 6mm pellets every 20 seconds or so, it wasn’t long before dark shapes were coming in to feed as soon as the pellets hit the water. But, as often happens on a well-fished venue, as soon as the float splashed down, they high-tailed it out of the swim.
The answer to this fishy conundrum is to feed twice, immediately before and after casting. You will also need to feather the line, so that the float lands with a gentle kiss on the surface. Get it right, bites will be savage. You now need to get them out of the killing zone as quickly and quietly as possible, by keeping the rod low, simultaneously reeling and pulling back.
For this you need full confidence in your rod, and reel for that matter, keeping the fish moving without pulling the hook, breaking the line or having the fish charge back through the feeding shoal. Basically you are pushing your kit to it limits, and it needs to respond and perform in equal measure.
This latest Commercial King2 Medium Pellet Waggler rod does exactly that. The added bit of muscle Browning has added kicks in as the blank approaches full parabolic compression, but its non-locking action provides enough of a safety factor for you to be able to dish it out without fearing the worst.
I was also impressed with the rod’s ability to deal with fish other than carp. During the live test some pretty hefty ide decided to have a go. These are not exactly cage fighters, but can be welcome weight builders in matches.
Their lolloping ‘fall-over’ swimming action means they are effectively dragged towards the net – hook-pulls happen all too often when using carp-style pellet waggler tactics. But not with this rod. It handled everything from near-double-figure carp, through to heavyweight ide and big roach, with aristocratic disdain.
I really liked the original Browning Commercial King rods, rating them right up there with many of the best models then available.
These latest rods look, feel and perform with every bit as much style, but with a little more bite.
Improvements to the cosmetics and furnishings give them an expensive top-end look which belies their very sensible price tags.
This is a handy little travel rod for anyone thinking about sneaking in a spot of barbel fishing when they’re on holiday. Ideal to tuck away in the boot of the car, the five-sectioned 12ft carbon blank has a powerful through action, able to deal with the largest of fish.
It comes with push-in quivertips of 2.5oz, 2oz and 1.5oz, and an Avon-style tip that could be used for heavy floatfishing. In a tough go-anywhere tube, other key features include high-quality lined guides, keeper ring, and a full cork handle with forefinger grip.
Italian brand Colmic has been around the UK match scene for many years, with products such as Colmic Jolly pole floats..
Its nickelled Nuclear 501 pattern is the forerunner to many commercial carp hook designs, and it’s fair to say that Colmic poles – and rods, for that matter – have proved very popular.
It’s always going to be tricky for a European company to gain a really strong foothold, though – think Trabucco and Tubertini.
However, at this year’s Big One show Colmic revealed several very impressive new poles, seatboxes and rods for commercial fisheries.
One of the outstanding new rod concepts at the show was Colmic’s three-rod 9ft 25g, 10ft 35g and 11ft 45g Scrape Feeder Xtreme Next Adventure series. All three of the two-piece blanks have a typical fast parabolic action, marrying a forgiving tip section to a mid-section with plenty of backbone, allowing fish to be played quickly to the net without the risk of hook-pulls or snapped lines.
Colmic has built its three Adventure rods with a taper unique to each in respect of casting distance and feeder weight. The shorter the rod, the faster the taper – the longer the rod, the stronger its lever, which translates into casting power and ability to bring fish quickly to the net. All three models are said to be ideal for use with cage, pellet, Method and block-end feeders, as well as straight lead tactics.
The model on live test duty, the mid-range 10ft 35g rod, should be well suited to most short to mid-distance feeder work on a normal commercial fishery.
The proving ground for the theory was Decoy’s fish-packed Lou’s lake, a horseshoe-shaped water that responds particularly well to far-bank feeder tactics. Accurate casts of around 35m are needed to get the best from it.
Starting the session using a lightweight 15g flatbed Method feeder, the sporty Italian blank cast straight as a die time after time, and despite early reservations about its short and rather delicate looking quivertip carrier section, the silver-etched black blank really did produce an impressively fast parabolic action. Carp from 2lb-5lb were beaten in double-quick time.
The rod comes with three push-in fibreglass quivertips of 1/2oz, 1oz and 1.5oz, and the featherweight blank features two double-leg lined guides on its butt section, with another five single-leg lined guides perfectly placed along its carrier section to emphasise the fast taper action.
Suited to mainlines up to 8lb and hooklengths down to around 0.12mm, it’s lots of fun to use, mainly because it’s nigh impossible to lock up.
As an all-round commercial feeder rod it not only looks different from the norm, but it performs in a refreshingly different way from your average bog-standard commercial feeder rod… grazie Colmic!
Don’t let its name or dual colour scheme put you off – Colmic’s Scrape Xtreme Next Adventure 35g Feeder rod is quite something! Perfect for short to medium casting ranges, the blank lands substantially big fish in double-quick time, even on light gear.
If you visit a commercial fishery where the fish’s mouths are a bit messy and prone to hook-pulls, you should definitely have a look at this rod soon.
This super rod from Preston Innovations is designed for medium to long-range feeder fishing.
The two-piece carbon blank has power aplenty to launch a fully loaded Method feeder upwards of 60m.
But it’s not all brawn – the blank still has enough softness to absorb powerful lunges from big fish, doing away with hook-pulls at the net.
The rod comes with two fast-taper quivertips that give instant bite registration, and super-positive line pick-up speed even at extreme distances.
I must confess that as I slid this single-sectioned rod from its transit tube my first thought was: ‘What am I supposed to do with this thing, then?’ No emails please!
To the very best of my knowledge the quaintly-named Tri-Cast Pond Wand (it only says Trilogy on the blank) is the only one-piece match/pleasure fishing rod I have ever come across.
At only 4ft 10ins long, without one of its two 21ins supplied quivertips fitted, it’s also got to be one of the shortest.
But my question was quickly answered when I rang Tri-Cast’s brand manager Steve Hopkinson. He told me he had designed the Trilogy Commercial Pond Wand himself, to be used on the pole line when weather conditions make pole fishing difficult.
Apparently Steve had lost out on a probable match-winning peg when the wind had picked up so strongly that it made fishing at 16m nigh-on impossible for him – let’s face it, we’ve all been spun round on our seatboxes by the wind at some point in our career.
What Steve thought he needed to combat the elements was a diminutive wand-like tool which could be used to accurately swing a small feeder or straight lead underarm and on to his pole line without having to tighten up to it and risk moving his bait offline.
The construction of a single-sectioned rod isn’t quite as easy as you might think, mainly because the length of taper is vastly reduced. This doesn’t give the technical design team much to play with in terms of the casting and fish-playing performance of a blank.
But, as you might expect from one of the UK’s leading carbon manufacturers, Tri-Cast appears to have cracked this conundrum with ease.
The ridiculously slim blank is built from the same high modulus carbon cloth as the firm uses for the other members of its Trilogy Commercial rod family. It’s fitted with five low-profile Ultra-Light lined guides (which, incidentally, are made in the USA), and is nicely furnished with electric blue whippings, with an additional whipping at the end of the carrier section to prevent the fine-walled carbon from splitting when fitting its 1oz or 1.5oz push-in quivertips.
So, without further ado, let’s find out how this tiny terror performs on the bank. The strip lakes at Decoy are rightly renowned for two things – the large size of their occupants (great) and the endless Fenland easterly wind which seems to blow non-stop (which isn’t that great). But in this rare instance the hooley provided ideal testing conditions.
Without a doubt, the first thing you notice will be an almost overwhelming reluctance to cast it as you normally would – overhead. Yes I agree, that might sound a bit far-fetched, but believe me it isn’t. You WILL want to flick it out underarm.
I have used plenty of petite drop shot rods, overhead casting them without a problem using light lures or jigs. But not so with this rod. It just seems to lend itself better to a gentle swing-out.
It’s not as though the blank won’t cast properly, as later on during the live test I chucked a fully loaded 15g Method feeder 25m with no problems.
The single-section blank manages to generate a completely perfect flat-spot-free parabolic fish-playing action, and considering its diminutive dimensions it has all the tenacity of an angry Jack Russell, happily hanging on to anything you might hook into.
As my confidence in the rod began to rise I actually clipped up the reel at 16m to keep my feeding and accuracy really tight, and to see if I’d get away with it if something really big came along.
Yes, I did indeed manage to bank a near-double, but it was all bit too heart-stopping and not something I would recommend.
There simply isn’t enough stretch in the mono at that distance, so you’re more likely than not to be snapped off if there are real zoo creatures about.
Basically it’s easier and much safer to tie a little bit of fine pole elastic on to the reel line as a distance gauge, or have a set of wrap sticks set up behind your box – which for 16m distance is about 4.3 wraps on 12ft markers.
Basically this delightful little rod is likely to be the most fun you’ve ever had with 6ft of carbon fibre. It weighs next to nothing, is easy to transport once you’ve removed the quivertip, and it easily fits inside a standard ready rod holdall. The short handle makes it easy to manoeuvre, and if you set it up with the tip pointing virtually straight out in front of you, there’s no need to adjust the line after casting to keep you bang on the money every put-in.